July 11th, 2012
11:56 AM ET
8 years ago

Reacting to boos, Romney goes off-script

(CNN) - Mitt Romney was met with a round of boos Wednesday during his speech at the NAACP convention in Houston, after he voiced his goal to repeal "Obamacare."

"I'm going to eliminate every non-essential expensive program I can find. That includes Obamacare, and I'm going to work to reform and save," he said, before being interrupted by the unhappy crowd.

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The presumptive GOP presidential nominee paused for 15 seconds, as he looked out over the crowd hissing and jeering.

Instead of moving on to his next point, Romney went off-script to back up his claim.

Romney mentioned, as the boos began to fade, a survey of 1,500 members of the Chamber of Commerce, in which three-quarters said President Barack Obama's health care plan made them "less likely to hire people."

"So I say again," Romney continued. "If our priority is jobs, and that's my priority, that's something I'd change and I'd replace with something that provides to people something they need in health care, which is lower costs, good quality, a capacity to deal with people who have pre-existing conditions and I'll put that in place."

He then went on to make his next point, as listed in his prepared remarks.

The candidate had a few more boos from those who took issue with some of his positions. However, Romney also received some applause lines, as well as a few bursts of organ music during the remainder of his speech.

After the event, campaign adviser Tara Wall described Romney's reception as favorable, saying, "I'll take three boos out of thunderous applause over and over again."

Pressed by reporters if she really considered the applause "thunderous," Wall quickly walked back her remark.

"Okay, applause in general. I think there was a lot more, as I've said a few times, a lot more applause than there were boos. I will take the fact that there was acceptance overall with his speech," she said.

After the speech, the NAACP released a statement thanking Romney, "We are pleased that Gov. Romney addressed our convention today."

But then Chairman Roslyn Brock criticized Romney's policies, "This morning Gov. Romney laid out his policy agenda for this nation. Unfortunately, much of his agenda is at odds with what the NAACP stands for - whether the issue is equal access to affordable health care, reforming our education system or the path forward on marriage equality. We appreciate that he was courageous and took the opportunity to speak with us directly."

NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous also stated that Romney's plans did not meet the interests of the audience.

"His criticism of the Affordable Care Act– legislation that will improve the access to quality health care for millions - signals his fundamental misunderstanding of the needs of many African Americans," Jealous stated.

- CNN Political Producer Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • NAACP • Texas
soundoff (462 Responses)
  1. ST

    "So I say again," Romney continued. "If our priority is jobs, and that's my priority, that's something I'd change and I'd replace with something that provides to people something they need in health care, which is lower costs, good quality, a capacity to deal with people who have pre-existing conditions and I'll put that in place."
    Romney is talking as if he is telling people who can not think. How anyone can get good quality healthcare with a low cost? The high cost of anything is what makes it have high/good quality. Something cheap, is always good for nothing. He should stop cheating people!

    July 11, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. Jean, Des Moines, Iowa.

    I am so tired of conservatives reaching back in to the past and bringing up KKK, racists etc were democrats. Yes, they were before 1960's due to hating president Lincoln and all he stood for. After the civil rights act of the 1960's they did not walk – but ran to the republican party where they all remain today – KKK, white extremists, every hate group you can find (in churches and elsewhere) are all republicans due to the civil rights act.

    July 11, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. ERH

    Romney – 1 the NAACP – 0
    It is not hard to look ignorant all some need do is open their collective mouth and shut their collective minds.

    July 11, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. Natalie

    All those jeers are well-deserved. I'm booing from afar. Romney is wrong for this country and can't be trusted at all. Can you only imagine if Obama was withholding tax records on offshore accounts? Fox Noise would be having a field day! The hypocrisy is sickening.

    July 11, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. Peter

    Yes, as many agree, to call it "Obamacare" (the derogatory term the Republicans use for The Affordable Health Care Act) in front of an NAACP audience was not exactly a bright thing to do!

    Romney also read from a teleprompter. Make note of this the next time anyone throws that tired, old criticism at Obama.

    July 11, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. TC

    Here is the speech he should have given. He might actually gotten a vote or two from the audience ( Yes I wrote this myself)

    Headline “Mitt Romney gets applause and some stand at NAACP speech”
    Here is an excerpt.

    “Now I know that the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as “Obamacare” is very popular with most of the folks in the room tonight. And honestly there are many aspects of the bill that are good and areas where the President and I agree. For example I think that people should not be dropped from their coverage because they get sick. Also I agree that preventative medicine saves lives and should be a standard. So there are areas were we agree. And we have some disagreements as well on this Act. The Affordable care act will require people to buy insurance, that they may not be able to afford or face a tax penalty from the government. And it is important to note that a survey of small business owners was done by the Chamber of Commerce and 3/4ths of the respondents said that they would stop hiring because of the financial mandates that the Affordable Care Act would put on their business. In this economy even one job lost is one too many. Nationally unemployment is at 8.2 %. But for African Americans it’s closer to 15%. 15% unemployment is just unthinkable and adding more financial burdens to small business that do most of the hiring, could see unemployment go up even more.

    Personally I think that the President certainly has the right idea, when he talks about our Health Care System needing reform. I just think that he has the wrong plan. We can make sure that people have access to the greatest Health care on the planet, without it being the greatest burden to our job creators”

    You can be true to your principles ( even though Romney doesn't really have any) and still know your audience.

    July 11, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  7. macbil

    As President Franklin D. Roosevelt used to say about Republicans in the 1930s... (and I'm paraphrasing)...All the Republicans do is wait until Democrats do something (eg, healthcare) then come around afterwards and say, "we can do it better and it won't cost you anything." True today as it was then...and you can add wars, tax cuts for the rich, etc in there from Reagan to Bush II.

    July 11, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  8. itrainsalicia

    I personally despise Romney. I find him to be yet another average politician with no real basis. Anyone can announce what they wish to do, but keep in mind, the president does nothing alone. Think of the rest of the people involved in making large, governmental decisions. It seems ridiculous to say what you WILL do, when there is no guarantee on anything.

    When it comes to Obama, I can not quite form a valid opinion on him. (I did support him in 2008, and I still would choose him over McCain if it came to the same two choices again.) Obama, like Romney, set the bar extremely high for people, saying he was to change this and that. A good portion of the country was ready for this change and anxious for it. But, although I give no credit since I feel Obama did not push his beliefs enough, he alone does not make decisions. The president of the USA could decide he/she wishes to make a plan to create jobs and whatever else, and all it takes is the rest of those involved in the government to disapprove. This is good and bad. If you have a house of republicans and a democratic president, nothing can get accomplished as we are all too focused on hating each other instead of worrying about the health of the country.

    With that being said, regardless of who is elected, nothing will get accomplished. But I do feel that 'Obamacare' is just like anything else. Some will agree, others will not. I see no need for it on one hand. In this world, I think we realize we need health insurance to get by because without it, not much can be done for you at a reasonable expense. On the other hand, those who cannot afford to pay companies like Cobra for decent insurance that is actually worth paying for, need insurance to. Obamacare both sucks and somewhat makes sense. If you hate it and it passes, get private insurance!

    No matter what direction you go in with any government position, there is no winning. Both the democrats and the republicans have become far too unfocused on things that are of value these days. Political parties are the reason we have so many problems, the reason people are booing, the reason things can not get accomplished. We seriously need to rid our government of both parties. Clearly there has to be a label these days, and as a libertarian, I feel it is better to vote for the candidates that are running under the independent ballot. Those with less funding because they are not made of money, are more likely to be interested in the well being of real, every day people. Think about that the next time you go to vote. We need to get rid of big parties.

    However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion. -George Washington

    July 11, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. MikeInCarolina

    What was Mitt thinking? He would have done better to have omitted any mention of Obamacare or at least be respectful enough to call it by its' proper name, The Afforable Care Act of 2010. Anyone with knowledge of the NAACP's history realizes that their base is blacks and poor people. Poor people need universal healthcare by any means neccesary. Declaring opposition to it at an NAACP convention was truly ill-advised

    July 11, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. Syxx Sense


    I don't care about the Chamber of Commerce. A group of crooked (in my opinion) tort reform wanting big businesses are not interested in hiring people, they are interested in money and limited liabilities.

    July 11, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  11. Bob Lewis

    What are you hiding, Mitt? You should be booed, considering your parties shameful record on race relations and your determination to erase blacks from the polls this November.

    July 11, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. Jean

    Considering the Chamber of Commerce's reputation lately I'm nor sure that it was a wise idea to use them as an example. None the less. It's almost funny, but not, that Romney attacks the very health programs that he proudly installed in Massachusetts when he was Governor, Apparently ti is working quite well, too, according to all I have read, Numbers of insured people up, premium prices down. But now that Romney seems to be owned by the extreme right , plus the fact that he wants to be president SO badly., he trashes the very program he authored. Not to mention the multitude of other swings of opinion he suffers from. Couple that with his dodging of the issues involving his tax returns and hidden off shore assets , don't-tax-the-wealthy attitude and it is no wonder that the audience was suspicious and reacted. The middle class can no longer continue to support the whole nation while the rich pocket more and more wealth. NO job ever "trickled down", certainly none have in the last ten years. So boo to you, Mitt. Until you want to work for the average American, not your corporate supporters, the more likely you are to get this reaction as people really get a good look at who you really are.

    July 11, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC


    At all costs, I'm praying Mitt Romney will win this fall. I, personally, have no desire to reside in an increasingly hand-out, socialist, govt-controlled nation.
    Haven't you ever noticed that countries with the "smallest governments" relative to the size of the populations tend to rule societies with some of the worst poverty rates, worst human rights statistics, and the most violence?

    July 11, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. The GOP needs to pack up and leave

    Non-essential? To Romney, that's Medicare, Social Security...

    July 11, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. Kodi

    Romney's speechwriter should be taken to task. His speech was receiving a polite response, with reasonable applause at key points. Then he used the loaded term "Obamacare" and lost a lot of the good will that he was building. Realizing that most of the audience is pro-Obama and that even the few conservatives in this audience would probably want to see Obama treated respectfully, the speechwriter should have chosen his words carefully here. If Romney had said something like "there's been a lot of talk about repealing the health care law, but you would be right to challenge me to explain what policies I would offer to replace it. So here are some of my ideas ...," he wouldn't have lost his momentum.

    July 11, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. Norma Vessels

    Also, Mitt Romney listed the things he would do .. which sounded good, until one realizes that he was talking about the very things that are already in place! The part of Healthcare that helps people with pre-existing health problems, to be included. That is already in place, Mr. Romney! And by the way, when someone tells you that they hate Obama Care because their insurance keeps going up .. remind them that it's their insurance company's idea .. the Healthcare act as a whole, will not even go into full effect until 2014!

    July 11, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  17. judith

    Romney is so laughably stiff–he truly "laid an egg" at the NAACP event. There is something fundamentally wrong with this man that he simply cannot relate like a real human being. In addition, of course, his policies would be disastrous for any demographic but the one percenters.

    July 11, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  18. AJ

    I guess Romney thinks that there is nothing wrong with Insurance companies charging a family 1500 dollars a month when the family on makes 2000 dollars a month.

    July 11, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  19. Bob Lewis

    It was like amateur night at the Apollo. He could have turned that into a winning "Reagan" moment, but he's not clever or quick on his feet enough to make the moment work for him.

    July 11, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  20. tellin it like it is

    such rude and disrespectful people. what did romney expect from a bunch of democrats? and they wonder why people won't speak to them. even obama is stiffing him. but im sur ethey would cheer him for the high unemployment in the black community just because he looks like them. but rest assured, there is nothing racist going on there.

    July 11, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  21. roscoe66

    Im not sure why he even wastes his time speaking to this group. Polls show 0bama will get 90-95% of the black vote in this election.Luckily they only comprise 13% of our population.

    July 11, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. Larry L

    @Four and The Door

    "Yes we need accessible healthcare for everyone, including those with preexisting conditions. But we do not have to add to the cost problem or sacrifice quality of care to get there."
    You were clearly not a math major. Keeping it simple w/o interest, real dollars, etc. – If one major event costs over a million dollars (and many do) and the person paying the premiums pays $1000 per month in insurance – it would take over 83 years to recover the costs. The costs of chronic care (pre-existing conditions like diabetes and cancers) can go well beyond the million dollar number. If the healthy part of the population does not pay into the pool insurance companies could never offer the provisions Americans need. Would you be able to run an auto insurance company with reasonable premiums if you only insured people with a long history of speeding tickets and accidents? The "free market" and "unspecified cuts" Romney is using as a plan is nonsense. The math will never work and he would simply give the entire program to Wall Street as a gift.

    Republicans wouldn't even come to the table to talk about healthcare reform and the existing laws were done without any compromise from the GOP. The laws were modeled after Romney's plan and incorporated many ideas from the Heritage Foundation's previous evaluation. NOW he doesn't like it?

    July 11, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  23. mm

    Where's Mitt's plan. Its one thing to critize Obamacare but he seems not talking about what he would replace it with. Mitt where's the beef.

    July 11, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  24. Timmy

    Actually I think he handled it very well.

    July 11, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  25. ATL

    Wow, a politician that states his positions despite knowing the audience might not agree. Refreshing!

    July 11, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
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